Song of the Day #3,386: ‘The Things That Everybody Does (Live)’ – Tift Merritt

The best 30 Day Music Challenge categories are the ones left completely open to the participant’s interpretation. How you interpret the challenge is as meaningful as the song you ultimately pick.

Such is the case with Day 23’s direction to name ‘A Song That You Think Everybody Should Listen To.’ Does that mean a song you find important, so if everybody listened to it the world would somehow become a better place? Or a little-heard song that you feel needs the exposure?

Or maybe you put the emphasis on the word “listen” and offer up a song that everybody knows but few people really understand.

For my part, I went with the second interpretation and selected a song — and an artist — I believe is far too underappreciated. Regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised to see Tift Merritt’s name pop up here, but the general public remains largely in the dark.

Merritt has a wealth of wonderful material on her six solo albums, but her finest moment may well be this track from 2010’s See You On the Moon. ‘The Things That Everybody Does’ is simple and profound, an ode to both the yearning for self-exploration and the comfort we find in other people. It’s a love song, but a beautifully melancholy one, which makes it my favorite kind.

I have of course featured this song on the blog already, but that just gave me an excuse to dig up this lovely live version, shot in one take at a park in Paris.

Everybody told me this is who you have to be
My hands in my pockets as deep as they go
I walked home and packed up my cases to leave
I walked all over this country, I went down to the sea
I talked a lot with the sun and the sky
I didn’t talk much with anyone else really
These are the things that everybody does
I always wondered what was all the fuss
I never knew exactly what it was
‘Til there was you
‘Til there was you
‘Til There was you

You found me up in the attic, singing down to the leaves
You caught me reading love letters aloud
To horses and children, to stars and to trees
These are the things that everybody does
I always wondered what was all the fuss
I never knew exactly what it was
‘Til there was you
‘Til there was you
‘Til there was you

But a mountain is still a mountain, a mountain goes to the sea
No matter what I’d like to pretend, no matter what I’d like it to be
No I don’t have to stay here, I could fly off and leave
On the wings of a unicorn’s breast, my typewriter strapped with diamonds to my chest
But how could I go with breakfast not over yet?
These are the things that everybody does
I always wondered what was all the fuss
But what a lovely morning that it was
When there was you
When there was you
When there was you
When there was you

14 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,386: ‘The Things That Everybody Does (Live)’ – Tift Merritt

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Another well attended concert for Tift! Sorry, couldn’t resist.😁

    I’m going to go with the interpretation of this category as a song everybody has likely heard, but that contains a sufficiently powerful message that it is a song to which we should all “listen.” My pick is John Lennon’s simple idealistic plea, “Imagine.”

  2. Peg Clifton says:

    In Sunday’s New York Times book review section an author is interviewed each week and one of the questions asked is “if you could recommend one book for the president to read, what would it be?” Of course we have a president that doesn’t read books so the answers have been humorous this year. If the question was a song I would choose Dana’s choice today -Imagine. Also love Clay’s choice. Have to think about mine 😊

  3. Doug says:

    The song every one should hear? “The House I Live In.’ Why? Because the lyrics speak to the issues of today even though the song is more than 70 Years old. It was written to accompany a short film about tolerance written my Albert Malta, one of the Hollywood Ten writers who were black balled during the McArthy era. Frank Sinatra does the only version I’ve ever heard but that’s not why it’s a must hear. The opening line sets the stage!. what is America to me? the house I live in. The people that I meet. I’m inept at finding lyrics so I’ll leave that to those who are.

  4. Markazero says:

    Regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised to see my name pop up here😁 A lovely version of one of my favorite songs of one of my favorite artists, that’s something! Lucky me: I have a ticket for Jason Isbell’s concert in Hamburg in November. Luckier me: Tift is support, the audience will be much bigger than in Paris, at least me and a friend of mine, two minimum therefore😎

    Here is a little-heard song that i feel needs the exposure:

  5. Markazero says:

    Oops, as I created my own blog on WordPress recently I had to confirm that it’s me (Peter), usually I use the nickname in other blogs. Technology, a mystery like music…

  6. Peg Clifton says:

    I’ve decided to go with This is All I Ask. Frank Sinatra does a beautiful job but others have recorded it.

  7. Maddie says:

    I’m going to post a song I think everyone should listen to because it is a great warning for what is happening in the present day:

  8. Markazero says:

    Three Fans! Today I read a comment on Instagram: “can’t wait to see you live in Hamburg next month “! Her fan basis grows and grows. Exciting!

  9. Markazero says:

    As I finally started my own blog this week I can show you a couple of paintings that are based on Tift’s photos. Sorry for the horrible English, Google translator was simply the cheapest solution…

  10. Clay says:

    Thanks, very cool site! And I can’t believe I missed the Lebowski reference in your new handle.

    • Markazero says:

      Thank you! Maybe you missed it because it is based on a false memory: Walter says (yells) “mark it zero”, not “mark a zero”. I first used it in a Franconian soccer fan blog. After having realized my mistake I decided to ignore it because in the dialect of my home region “mark it” would sound like “Margit”, a girls name, but I’m not a girl 😉

  11. Amy says:

    I’ve been reflecting on this one all day. I generally reject the notion behind the first interpretation you offer – that just because I think a song/film/book.. is worthwhile, everybody else should. Taste is supremely subjective, so the thing I love the most will invariably be despised by someone else. Why would I want to put them – or, more important, that thing I love – through such a negative experience.

    Therefore, I will go with a derivation of the way several readers have interpreted the prompt and choose something that might enable the listener to have a window into another person’s world view. The films and television shows I love most tend to do this, but I’m not sure I gravitate to music in this same manner. That said, I remember vividly the moment my kid brother introduced me to a new artist, Tracy Chapman, and the way I felt the first time I heard “Fast Car.” At that point, I hadn’t known anyone in my life that was like the protagonist of that song. Listening to the song that day, and every of the thousands of times I’ve heard it since, I understood and empathized with her. If we’re going to pick a song for everybody to listen to, I’d want it to be one that might produce that sort of empathy for another’s life experience. The fact that this song was a single, that it got airplay at all, always sort of mystified me, but in the best possible way.

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